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U.S. CAR AND TRUCK SALES COULD TOP 15 MILLION IN '94

    DETROIT, Aug. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Car and truck sales in the U.S. could top 15 million in 1994, about a million more than the auto makers will sell this year, Ward's Auto World says in its August issue.
    "The economic wizards believe the auto industry may be leading the parade up the yellow brick road to relative boom times in the U.S.," the magazine says in its annual forecast issue which polls the movers and shakers in the auto industry.
    The magazine's conclusions are based on in-depth interviews with top economists at the U.S. Big Three automakers and other knowledgeable experts, all of whom agree that the three-year automotive recession has ended.
    Estimates for new U.S. vehicle sales between now and the year 2000 range from highs barely reaching 15 million to numbers topping 17 million.  But with overall vehicle sales currently increasing about 130,000 a month, some auto company executives say there will be 17-million-vehicle years during the middle '90s.
    The U.S. market is seen, however, as basically mature with upcoming demand spikes triggered by the need to replace older vehicles.  A hefty 37 percent of U.S. cars and trucks these days are 10 years old or older.
    Among the Big Three, some financial analysts see Chrysler Corp. as enjoying a continuing financial upward swing and General Motors Corp. rebounding.  But they say Ford Motor Co. is in for some rough financial water.  Everyone seems to agree, however, that the next two or three years offer a unique one-time opportunity for the Big Three to recapture lost U.S. market share.  The Japanese have already lost five percentage points since the depths of the U.S. recession in 1991, including 3 percent in 1993 alone.
    Ward's Auto World also says the outlook is bullish for larger vehicles, especially sport-utilities, minivans and luxury and near- luxury vehicles and bearish on smaller vehicles.
    In its July issue the magazine also says:
    -- A decision on the future of Ford's Mercury Capri, which is built in Australia, will be made early next year.  Reports in the Australian press say the car is all but dead but officials of Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd. are guardedly optimistic.  The car has been revamped for the 1994 model year.  The current-generation Capri is scheduled to be discontinued after the 1995 model year with no announced plans for a new version.  Ford expects to sell about 12,400 Capris in the U.S. in the 1993 model year and about the same number in the 1994 model year.  When the car was being developed in the mid-1980s Ford had expected U.S. sales of 30,000 to 35,000 annually, Ward's Auto World says.
    -- Improved safety systems, many of them electronics-based, will almost eliminate auto-related fatalities and injuries by the end of the next century.  There are about 150,000 deaths and 5 million injuries each year in the top 44 industrialized nations.  The improvements won't happen at breakneck speeds.  It can take 10 to 15 years after a technology is developed to get it into a vehicle.
    Quoting a study by Arthur D. Little of Cambridge, Mass., the magazine says air bags will become mandatory by 2010; keyless entry with remote-control starts and programmable position controls will be widespread by 2030; integrated traction control and antilock brake systems by 2030; suspension and power steering will be added to ABS by 2060; intelligent vehicle highway systems (IVHS or smart highways) by 2050; and collision-avoidance systems using radar and automatic pilot by the late 21st century.
    -0-             08/13/93
    CONTACT:  David C. Smith, editor, Ward's Auto World, 313-962-4433 CO:  WARD'S AUTO WORLD IN:  AUT PUB SU:  ECO ST:  MI


-- DE011 -- X673 08/13/93
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 13, 1993
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